Former Super Eagles player, Femi Opabunmi, has sued his former club in France, Niort, over their failure to honour their side of the alleged agreement they had with him before he left the club in 2006.
Opabunmi, who at 16 became the third youngest player to appear at the World Cup (Korea/Japan 2002) after Northern Ireland’s Norman Whiteside (17 years and 41 days at Espana ‘82) and Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o (17 years and three months at France ’98), ended his football career in 2006 after he started experiencing vision problems in one of his eyes.
The former Shooting Stars player, who represented Nigeria at the Trinidad and Tobago 2001 FIFA Under-17 World Cup, is not happy that Niort, who are currently campaigning in the France’s second tier league, have refused to assist him.
At the Under-17 world cup in Trinidad and Tobago in 2001, Opabunmi won the silver boot behind French striker, Florent Sinama Pongolle, while his compatriot Victor Brown won the bronze boot.
Opabunmi, who confirmed the development, condemned Les chamois for allegedly abandoning him as he sought medical treatment for his vision problems.
The 33-year-old former Switzerland and Israel-based player said, “Things have been hard for me and I must thank the Nigeria Football Federation president, Amaju Pinnick, and the vice-president, Seyi Akinwunmi, who have been supporting me.
“My former club, Niort, played on my intelligence, innocence and youthfulness. We had an agreement when I left the club to seek treatment for my eye problems but they reneged on the agreement.
“It has been a long time and I have decided to seek justice in court. I am working on that now. The club should do what is right concerning the agreement. My health conditions ended my career, and it is not my wish. I am sad about it but life must go on.”
He said the NFF had been making attempts to rehabilitate him, stressing that he had also received help from friends like former Nigeria attacker Osaze Odemwingie.
“Osaze has been a good friend who has always been there for me. I appreciate what he has been doing for me.
“My family is here in Nigeria with me but I have a child in France from a French woman. I call on young players of today to invest their time and money wisely because nobody knows tomorrow.
“They should learn from my predicament. I put in a lot as a young man but it ended the way I did not envisage.”
The future of Opabunmi looked bright after shining like a superstar at the cadet tournament, prompting top clubs in Europe gunning for his signature, in which he however pitched his tent with Grasshoppers FC in Switzerland to launch himself in Europe.